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Lunchbox boredom busters

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Fun lunches for happy kids

Are your kids suffering from lunchbox boredom? Symptoms include sour faces, food trading and extra uneaten food. As a busy mom, you need a routine and go-to lunch ideas, but that doesn't mean packing the same old thing every day. Here's how to become a professional lunchbox boredom buster.

Healthy bento lunchbox

Jazz up the traditional sandwich

If your sandwiches are getting boring, make them more fun!

  • Let your kids help you choose fun deli meats such as pepperoni to add (in moderation) to staples such as turkey and chicken.
  • Make a flavored sandwich spread instead of using mayo. You'll find tons of recipes online.
  • If your kiddo's a future foodie, he'll love fun gourmet touches, such as hummus or Gorgonzola crumbles.
  • If your child always eats her salad, go vegetarian on occasion with a host of crispy veggies and a light spread or dressing.

Skip the traditional sandwich

Traditional sandwiches are a bag-lunch staple because they're easy, but they aren't the only game in town.

  • Traditional bread isn't a requirement. You can put almost any sandwich ingredients (and more) into a tortilla, pita or flatbread. Chicken caesar pita, anyone?
  • It doesn't have to be square. Use cookie cutters to make the sandwiches into fun shapes, and take the scraps to work for when you need that extra boost at 3 p.m.
  • Make a sandwich roll by use a rolling pin to roll slices of bread flat. Spread on mayo, cream cheese or another spread; add meats, cheeses and veggies, and roll into a pinwheel.
  • Soups, chilis and cold pasta salads (and just about anything else that gets better after it's been in the fridge) are great dinner ideas that you can send for lunch. Just don't do it the very next day. Dinner on Monday is great for lunch on Wednesday.
  • While you're making dinner the night before, pile their favorite toppings on unbaked canned croissants, roll and bake at 350F until golden brown. Try themes like pizza or hamburger, or just use your imagination.

What's on the side?

If you're packing chips every day, it's time to think outside the bag.

  • Pack carrots, cucumber slices or other crispy veggies with a small amount of dressing. It doesn't always have to be ranch, either. Try poppyseed, sweet Vidalia onion and other kid-friendly favorites.
  • Bag up some healthy wheat crackers with some spread and a plastic spoon. Reduced-fat cream cheese, hummus, fruit spreads and reduced-fat peanut butter are easy and healthy.
  • Keeping it healthy doesn't mean skipping dessert. Add one or two small, individually wrapped chocolates or candies for that extra touch.

Tell us

What are your favorite lunchbox boredom busters?

Share with us in the comments section below!

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